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Cristian Roldan played with broken arm

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Brian Schmetzer admits he may have underestimated how much injury would affect midfielder.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Philadelphia Union Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps more disconcerting for the Seattle Sounders than the result itself — a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Sunday — was the play of Cristian Roldan.

Arguably the Sounders’ MVP up until this point in the season, there was no ignoring the reality that Roldan struggled while wearing a heavy cast to protect two fractured bones in his left arm. The 22-year-old never appeared comfortable, lacking his usual ability to hold off defenders and generally looking far less confident and dynamic than normal.

Deployed as a central attacking midfielder, Roldan had a particularly rough first half. He had just 12 touches, completed only 5 of 11 passes, didn’t take a shot and his only defensive action was a lost tackle. Although he was much better in the second half, Schmetzer still pulled him at the 80-minute mark. It was the first time under head coach Brian Schmetzer that Roldan had failed to finish a match he started.

After the match, Schmetzer admitted allowing him to play may have been a mistake. Roldan had also played most of Wednesday’s match with the injury, although the extent of it was likely not yet known.

“That's another one I have to do some soul searching on,” Schmetzer told the media after the match. “Cristian is such a tough kid and I think he's Superman at times. Maybe we should have had a guy who was 100 percent. Playing with a broken arm is not easy and you could tell he couldn't do the things he normally does. So I have to own that one as well.”

Roldan, too, admitted the cast added a significant layer of difficulty.

“It’s tough, especially as a center midfielder and the way I play,” he said. “I couldn’t get into tackles, I couldn’t shield the ball as well as I would have liked to and as well as I usually do. It’s a bummer, no excuses though. I try to play 100 percent and unfortunately I couldn’t play as well as I wish I did and that’s the story of the game.”

The good news is that Roldan now has a couple weeks to heal, as much as that’s possible at this point in the season. Likely due at least in part to the injury, Roldan wasn’t called up for the United States’ upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The Sounders’ next match isn’t until Oct. 15 when they host FC Dallas.